Oklahoma City elected officials keep their distance from controversy over play

Competing demonstrations are planned in Oklahoma City outside the Civic Center when “The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told” opens Thursday.
by William Crum Modified: December 2, 2013 at 12:00 pm •  Published: December 2, 2013

“With 85 percent of the citizens of Oklahoma identifying themselves as Christians, why is it necessary to profane Jesus Christ?” they asked.

They also called on Fallin and the Legislature to cease funding for the Oklahoma Arts Council, even though the Arts Council rejected a request to help fund the play.

Fallin's office issued a letter saying “no state tax dollars have been allotted” to support the play. The letter states that Fallin's office has no authority over city government.

“She suggests you contact the Oklahoma Theater Company and explain why their decision to parody and subvert Biblical tales during the holiday season is offensive,” it reads.

Prayer vigil planned

Jim Brown, the Civic Center Music Hall's facility manager, was asked to respond to the pastors by the mayor's office.

In his letter, Brown said city officials were constitutionally prohibited from turning away productions based on their content.

The city and Civic Center are “required by law to rent space to individuals and organizations so long as they comply with our policies and ordinances and have paid the established rental fees,” Brown wrote.

Brown said Wednesday that he had responded to about 50 inquiries regarding the play by mail, email and telephone.

Irick said tickets for the first weekend were nearly sold out.

Pastors who oppose the play are organizing a prayer vigil outside the Civic Center on Friday, the play's official opening night.

A counter demonstration is being organized by JD Bergner, a community theater enthusiast who had several minor roles in Oklahoma City Theatre Company's first production this season, “In the Heat of the Night.”

The competing demonstrations caused worries for Hamilton, who was concerned how a flamboyant, raucous scene might reflect on the city's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

Hamilton said the Cimarron Alliance was encouraging demonstrators who support the play to “go as themselves, no signs, be quiet and peaceful.”

“We need to not meet rhetoric with rhetoric,” he said.


by William Crum
Reporter
OU and Norman High School graduate, formerly worked as a reporter and editor for the Associated Press, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, and the Norman Transcript. Married, two children, lives in Norman.
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